National Academies Press: OpenBook

Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future (2000)

Chapter: 1 Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
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1
Introduction

Promoting the clean, efficient use of coal is one of the major objectives of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy (OFE). DOE believes the current restructuring of the electric utility industry in many parts of the United States will lead to a more diverse and complex energy industry, in which power, energy, and manufacturing will be closely intertwined in a highly efficient, flexible economic system. A restructured industry will also lead to fundamental changes in the way electrical energy is regulated and produced in the United States. Up to now, electricity has been generated in large central station power plants and sent to customers over transmission and distribution systems; generation, transmission, and distribution have been regulated by public utility commissions. Anticipated changes in this pattern are the basis for OFE's Vision 21 Program, which is the primary focus of this report. DOE envisions that future energy-producing plants will be combined power and process plants that will be price competitive with ''single-purpose" plants in the energy markets of the twenty-first century. Future power plants are expected to produce energy and/or other products with "zero net carbon dioxide emissions." Current research in DOE's Clean Coal Technology Program and anticipated new research on gasifiers, high-temperature heat exchangers, hybrid cycles, fuel cells, and conversion processes, will be the basis for meeting these goals (DOE, 1999).

Based on the concepts of the Vision 21 Program, the OFE is attempting to advance power-generation technologies via the development of modular facilities designed to economically coproduce electricity, process heat, transportation fuels, and chemicals with almost no by-product air pollutants, solid or liquid wastes, or carbon dioxide emissions. In response to a request from the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Coal and Power Systems, the National Research Council (NRC)

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
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formed the Committee on R&D Opportunities for Advanced Fossil-fueled Energy Complexes to review the goals of the Vision 21 Program and the technologies and concepts that will be necessary to realize those goals.

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The Statement of Task for this study describes the issues included in the committee's review of the Vision 21 Program:

The NRC committee appointed to conduct this study will review the technology directions and research and development strategy for future advanced fossil-fueled energy complexes. The DOE Vision 21 program is focused on innovative approaches to addressing several of the technical areas that are critical to the success of future energy complexes that are cost effective and will have very low emissions to the environment (such as criteria pollutants [nitrogen and sulfur oxides], air toxics, and greenhouse gases). These future energy complexes are envisioned to produce electricity, fuels, chemicals, and other products using feedstocks that include coal, natural gas, fuel mixtures (e.g., coal and biomass), and fuel-rich wastes. In its review of the program, the committee will evaluate whether the Vision 21 program is well positioned to develop options for clean energy systems for the future. As part of its review, the committee will consider and comment on such issues as:

  • the goals of the program;

  • the schedules and milestones;

  • the proposed market drivers for the technologies under development;

  • the balance of R&D in the program including the number of technologies under development and between early, precompetitive research and applied development;

  • the technologies being pursued and whether other directions are warranted;

  • public/private partnering for research and development; and

  • strategies for deployment.

As appropriate, the committee's report may include suggestion for R&D directions in critical technology areas such as gas separation technologies and emissions control technologies, or in other areas deemed important to the successful development of future advanced energy complexes.

During its review of the program, the committee solicited the views of DOE, academia, and industry. The committee's findings of fact and subsequent recommendations are based on this information, as well as the knowledge and experience of committee members. In formulating findings and recommendations, the committee also considered the current and future energy issues and challenges facing the United States, as well as environmental and climate change, which will inevitably influence domestic energy policy and the focus of OFE's programs.

VISION 21 PROGRAM PLAN AND GOALS

In April 1999, the DOE issued The Vision 21 Program Plan: Clean Energy Plants for the 21st Century (DOE, 1999). DOE intends to implement the Plan by

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×

issuing a general solicitation for proposals for high-efficiency, high-environmental performance plant designs to coproduce electricity, process heat, transportation fuels, and chemicals with almost no by-product air pollutants, solid or liquid wastes, or carbon dioxide emissions. During the bid solicitation and evaluation period, DOE will complete a market assessment of the features and characteristics of a Vision 21 plant for potential purchasers as a basis for selecting projects for further development. The activities and milestones for the plan are reproduced in Appendix C.

In subsequent fiscal years (FYs), DOE will complete a report defining the required systems, key components, and performance levels of the Vision 21 plants they have chosen to fund and determine if they can meet the efficiency and pollutant emission targets. A follow-on program review will be conducted to identify the key components that must be upgraded to meet the performance goals. The information from these reviews will be used as a basis for the next round of solicitations. An assessment of the capital and operating costs of the selected Vision 21 plants will also be performed as part of the evaluation process.

According to the Plan, DOE will repeat this process beginning in the eighth FY following the first solicitation. The state-of-art and economic assessments will be repeated a third time in the sixteenth FY following the first solicitation.

In discussions following the release of the Plan, DOE representatives indicated that the Plan is being revised and that the number of solicitations and some aspects of the implementation may change. Nevertheless, DOE appears to be approaching the solicitation and selection of technologies using market assessment tools to establish performance and economic goals. Process definitions, followed by process evaluations and economic analyses, will be used to identify technologies that can meet the performance and economic goals in the required time frames.

PROGRAM GOALS

The goal of the Vision 21 Program is to provide complete commercial plant designs, as well as virtual simulations of Vision 21 plant performance by FY15. The construction of prototype, or commercial-scale, demonstration plants is not included in the plan. The key goals are shown below (by FY) (DOE, 1999):

FY04

Select component and subsystems for design studies.

FY05

Define performance requirements. Select initial prototype configurations.

FY06

Select initial commercial plant configurations.

FY07

Complete initial component and subsystems design.

FY09

Select final prototype plant configurations.

FY10

Select final commercial plant configurations. Conduct virtual performance demonstrations of components and subsystems.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×

FY12

Complete final component and subsystem designs and cost analyses.

FY14

Complete prototype plant designs and cost analyses.

FY15

Complete commercial plant designs and cost analyses. Complete virtual performance demonstrations of complete Vision 21 plants.

The program intends to deliver commercial designs and cost estimates, as well as virtual simulation tools.

ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT

Chapter 1 provides a brief background for the study and a discussion of how Vision 21 projects were evaluated by the committee. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the Vision 21 Program Plan and goals. Chapter 3 addresses the enabling technologies component of the program; Chapter 4 addresses the supporting technologies and systems integration components; and Chapter 5 addresses market aspects of the realization of Vision 21 concepts. Chapter 6 presents the committee's overall impressions of the Vision 21 Program, as well as findings and recommendations.

REFERENCE

DOE (U.S. Department of Energy). 1999. Vision 21 Program Plan: Clean Energy Plants for the 21st Century. Morgantown, W.V.: Federal Energy Technology Center.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×
Page 14
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×
Page 16
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Research Council. 2000. Vision 21: Fossil Fuel Options for the Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9862.
×
Page 17
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Vision 21reviews the goals of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Vision 21 Program (DOE's vision for the future of coal-based power generation) and to recommend systems and approaches for moving from concept to reality. Vision 21 is an ambitious, forward-looking program for improving technologies and reducing the environmental impacts of using fossil fuels (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) to produce electricity, process heat, transportation fuels, and chemicals.

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